House to vote on anti-Semitism resolution after latest comments by Ilhan Omar

The House will vote Wednesday on a “resolution condemning anti-Semitism,” according to a senior Democratic aide, following comments made last week by Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Democrat, at a “progressive issues town hall” at Busboys & Poets last week, where Omar said, “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”

She received pushback from senior Democratic lawmakers, including Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Eliot Engel, D-New York, who put out a statement last week calling it a “vile anti-Semitic slur” and Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-New York, who wrote in a series of tweets she was “saddened” that Omar was continuing to “mischaracterize support for Israel” and said, “no member of Congress is asked to swear allegiance to another country.”

In response, Omar tweeted, “Our democracy is built on debate, Congresswoman! I should not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress or serve on committee. The people of the 5th elected me to serve their interest. I am sure we agree on that!” She also tweeted, “I have not mischaracterized our relationship with Israel, I have questioned it and that has been clear from my end.”

The senior Democratic aide said that staffers for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Reps. Engel, Jerry Nadler, of New York, and Ted Deutch, of Florida, all worked on the resolution. The text has not yet been finalized. 

The Anti-Defamation League also sent Pelosi a letter Monday regarding Omar’s comments, asking her to “give the entire Congress an opportunity, through a House resolution, to voice its rejection of her latest slur.” The senior Democratic aide said the resolution that will receive a vote Wednesday was drafted before ADL’s letter was sent and that the ADL was aware of the forthcoming resolution before it sent its letter to Pelosi. 

Omar herself, however, has been the target of racist slurs and imagery. Just last week, the chairwoman of West Virginia’s Republican party denounced an anti-Muslim poster on display at the state’s Capitol during a Republican event. The poster appeared to link Omar to the 9/11 attacks, depicting planes flying into the World Trade Center with the phrase “never forget, you said” with a photo of Omar underneath, saying, “I am proof you have forgotten.”

Omar tweeted about the poster, writing, “No wonder I am on the ‘Hitlist’ of a domestic terrorist and ‘Assassinate Ilhan Omar’ is written on my local gas stations.” Engel, who has repeatedly criticized Omar over comments about Israel, came to her defense, writing on Twitter, “Absolutely horrible to see this blatant Islamophobic smear. Bigotry and dog-whistles of all kind are unacceptable. Whether its anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, or any kind of hatred, we must call it out when we see it.”

This will be the second time that the entire House is called to vote on legislation related to remarks made by Omar. Last month, she offended lawmakers in both parties for suggesting on Twitter that political support for Israel was entirely motivated by money doled out by AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobby. She ultimately apologized “unequivocally” for those tweets. 

Still, House Republicans forced a procedural vote on the House’s Yemen bill to say it is in U.S. national security interest to “combat anti-Semitism around the world.” The resolution did not mention her name, but said, “[T]here has been a significant amount of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel hatred that must be most strongly condemned.”

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